A couple of months ago, we had visited somebody, and they were showing Puttachi pictures in a book.
"Tiger Elli?" They asked her. (Where is Tiger?).
Puttachi looked blank. They were surprised, and they called out to me and asked me how it is that Puttachi did not know Tiger.
I said, "She doesn't know Tiger, she knows "huli" (Tiger in Kannada).
"Puttachi, huli elli?" They asked her.
Her eyes lit up, she pointed to the Tiger in the book, and for good measure, shaped her hands like claws and roared.
I talk to Puttachi almost entirely in Kannada, and most of the common nouns and verbs are also in Kannada up to a sensible limit. For example, though I know that Rhinoceros in Kannada is GhenDamriga and Ostrich is BenkikoLi, I teach her Rhinoceros and Ostrich. Similarly, I call a chair "Kurchi", but a table, "Table", not Meju, simply because that is how I would say it.
But I know lots and lots of people, some who are not even English fans or fanatics, who use English for nouns when talking to Puttachi. For example, they will most likely tell me, "Shruthi, aa hoovu eshTu channagide noDu!" (Look! How beautiful that flower is!), and then immediately turn to Puttachi and say, "noDu, flower nOdu." Why "hoovu" to me and "flower" to her? And this is not a one-off incident.
I first wondered if this was a Kannadiga trait, but the little boy next door told me, "Aunty, sky mein sun hota hai aur night mein moon aur stars hote hain." Whatever happened to aakash, chand and suraj? Relegated to romantic film songs?
At he park I see more than fifty percent of parents talking to their kids in English. Entirely in English. I know that many of them are from bilingual marriages, and English is the common language at home, but the others?
Is it training for school? Is it an effort to sound "upmarket"? Or are there any other legitimate reasons?
Puttachi recognizes both English and Kannada words for several objects now, because I read out the English word from the book, and tell her the Kannada word for it. (And as it happens, she finds the English word easier to say!) Anyway, I am just keeping my speech to her Kannada based, sprinkled with English. And I am not too bothered.
Children are like sponges. I don't think there is anything to worry about that they will not learn English in time for school, if that is the reason. If there is any other reason, I would love to hear it.